Monday, October 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Glory Baby....

It's so difficult to look at this picture from a year ago and know how thrilled we were to have welcomed another baby into our lives...and now we sit here still feeling so much pain and emptiness as we are left to wonder what our Graham would have been like on his first birthday...


The several weeks leading up to his birthday were actually much worse than I had anticipated. They were full of a variety of emotions...lots of tears, sheer devestation and hopelessness. I usually begin planning the kids' birthday party weeks (ok months) in advance. The devestation of ordering balloons for a balloon release instead of for him to play with and squeal at ripped my heart apart. I wanted so much to be choosing the perfect party decorations and choosing an outfit for him that would match the theme (yes, because that's what I do). I wanted so much to be giving gift ideas to our friends and family and then scrambling to figure out the perfect gift from us. I wanted to take James and Lauren to the store and have them pick out something he would have loved. Instead, we were trying to cope with the fact that we would not be celebrating his first birthday in a way that I had ever dreamed. We would not have the chance to do any of those spectacular things that come along with watching your child grow up. Again, sheer devestation at what we had lost....

I had a dream last week...one different than any one I have had up to this point. Often times I have nightmares of the night we lost Graham or of losing James and Lauren. They're really quite dreadful. For the last 9 1/2 months I have continually begged God to let me just see Graham one more time. I find myself continually disappointed that it has not happened. Last week I had a dream that Graham was given back to us at the same age he was taken from us. He was even in his Christmas jammies. It was under the condition that he live at the hospital. Of course I wanted to be with him all day long, sleep by him, hold him, spend every waking moment with him, but the nurses kept telling me that I needed to go home. And I begged and pleaded with them to let me stay...I couldn't ever leave him again. They didn't understand... The dream was so real. I remember the joy I had when I realized he was being given back to us. But the reality of waking up to exactly what it was...a dream, was simply devestating to the core. I woke up almost in a panic and realized quickly that my Graham was not given back to us. I have wondered if that glimpse of joy I felt in my dream was just a glimmer of what it will be like when we are reunited with Graham in heaven....I can't even imagine how wonderful that will be and trust me, I think about it an awful lot.


I don't know how heaven works and how old Graham would be, but there are things I've chosen to believe about heaven and Graham's life in heaven because it's easier for me that way. Therefore I believe that Graham had a big 1st birthday party in heaven. I'm sure it was incredible and the angels weren't stressing about getting the cake just right. ;) I do think though that my party would have ranked a close second to his party in heaven. I just wish with everything in me that we were able to celebrate with him...to watch him dive into his cake and manage to somehow end up with frosting in his ears. I wish we could have watched him open his presents and try and eat the wrapping paper. I wish we could have seen him bat at his balloons and squeal with delight as he opened new books, stuffed animals, and toys. I wish, I wish...

We had a celebration in honor and memory of our Graham William on the Saturday following his birthday. Close friends and family joined us for a very emotional, yet beautiful evening. It was full of tears and brokenness and yet I really felt like we were honoring and celebrating his 14 precious weeks of life. We ate dinner together, watched the video full of pictures and video clip of Graham's life then made our way out to the cemetary for prayer and a balloon release.


Here are just a few pictures of our evening...


14 white roses representing his 14 weeks of life...and white roses meaning new beginnings...


In leui of gifts we asked everyone to bring a children's book to donate in honor of Graham. We are taking them to Riley's Children's Hospital knowing that they help children from all over the world. We collected over 100 books...what an amazing way to honor our baby.



James and Lauren each picked out a piece of pottery to paint for Graham. James picked out a horse and Lauren chose a dragonfly. Perfect pieces from their hearts. They turned out beautifully and the kids left them so lovingly at Graham's grave. That was one of the hardest parts of the evening actually...watching them so carefully place their gifts at his grave.




If you look carefully you can see the balloons heading toward heaven...balloons honoring our Graham. The kids loved that so many balloons were sent to heaven just for him....they thought Graham would think it was so funny.




I think this is just a beautiful picture of all of my children.



I debated whether or not to include a picture of his headstone on my blog. It is such a beautiful and intimate thing, but I know there are many of you who have asked to see it and would never have the chance otherwise. It's so beautiful and breathtaking especially in person. One of my friends referred to it as "majestic." I still hate with every ounce of breath in me that we even had to choose this and still find myself in disbelief that this is the headstone of my child....my precious baby, but I think it's a beautiful structure.









Thank you so much for those of you who prayed your hearts out for us and for the entire month of Septmeber and specifically the days leading up to his birthday. Thank you for wishing him a Happy Birthday. The week was agonizing and yet I cannot imagine having gone through it without the hope of seeing him again and your prayers. Once again we are humbled and amazed by the body of Christ. We survived one of the hardest milestones of this journey...my baby's first birthday. The milestones are not over and the next few months we are plagued with the holidays and then the anniversary of his meeting with Jesus. Again, when I think about it I wonder how I'll survive. I don't feel like I can, but that is when I try and surrender my fears, anxiety, hurt, and sheer devestation of our loss at the feet of Jesus.

6 comments:

Carrie said...

Shelly, I have been thinking and praying and crying for you so much over the last week. I don't know what has had you on my mind SO much lately, but you are rarely far from my thoughts! Thank you for sharing this with us! What a precious party for a sweet little boy we all wish was here longer! Love you and will continue to pray for you!

ThisIsMyLife said...

You are blessed with many people who care so much about you! Thanks for continuing to share your heart with all of us! ~Erica

Shannon said...

Thank you for sharing this part of your journey Shelly. I prayed so much for you and continue to. I really appreciate you being willing to share pictures of your day celebrating Grahams life. Love you!

Jewel said...

Thanx so much for sharing your heart & life! May you experience peace & strength that comes from God! Happy Birthday, Graham! Hope you had a fun BD party up in heaven.

carrie said...

Shelly, you have been in my thoughts and prayers, i know this is not an easy time for you, but stay strong - you will be with him again one day. with love, carrie bower

ASHLEY ELDER said...

I am so sorry for your loss, I found your blog on tinyhandprints.com I recently lost my baby boy this past Aug, I miss him so much. Your son is so beauitful!